Good morning, Let’s talk more about my sick flashlight fetish. If you’ve followed my reviews you know second only to a quality, clean weapon with which I am very familiar the flashlight is my second most important tool. Today I want to go over a half dozen quality “every day carry” (EDC) lights.
Now I have a huge pile of lights, mostly weapon lights, quite a few regular flashlights though. Most of them are bigger like the Streamlight 10 Tap and Surefire G2/951 or Streamlight Scorpion size. That would be they use 2 CR123A batteries. Then several four cells and a pile of old mag-lites from back in the day. The older I get, the lazier I get. I have been trying to minimize size and weight for some time now, enter these EDC lights. They are smaller, lighter, use 1 battery, are all LED and have varying degrees of light output (lumen’s). They are still pretty bright most of them but the important thing here today is size/weight. Just like a gun if your going to leave your full size SA TRP Operator in 45acp home in your dresser drawer it’s useless. A small 380 is much better IF you actually have it when you need it. So sometime back I was looking to find more good quality lights I would actually still carry because they are not a hassle. So I found some that are easily pocket-able and forgotten till needed.
So my parameters on this are pretty simple. An EDC light needs to be small and I would like a pocket clip if possible. It needs to be of a shape you can effectively use it and turn it on/off easily while still aiming a pistol and it needs to use commonly available batteries. It’s arguable the distance of your average self defense shooting but 25 feet should be more than enough range to cover most shootings in the US. So at least a 25 foot usable range. Do I mean blind somebody? Not necessarily, but illuminate the target well enough to positively identify it and then put some rounds into it. Last I prefer a momentary switch that will light up with just a bit of pressure, not having to click it all the way on/off and the light must be an LED bulb. They are brighter and batteries/bulbs last longer.
Model 1: Pelican 1910 LED. Price: 19.95$
Pelican turns out some good stuff and this is no different. This seems to meet most of my criteria, pocket clip, LED, momentary switch and its long enough for me to use the switch while holding a pistol. Looks nice and the machining is excellent. It has a run time of 1 hour on one AAA battery. The unit only puts out 39 lumen though. So we will see come test time if that ends up being enough. They say a beam range of 62 meters but I find that hard to believe right now. If not it’s a nice key-chain light for sure.
Model 2: Streamlight 88030 ProTac 1L Price: 36.00$
Right off the bat this one looks like a great choice, while it is the fattest of the bunch it’s not too fat. This one has High/Strobe/Low and puts out 110 lumen on high. For the size this is very bright. The single CR123 battery gives us 1 hour 45 mins of run time total and is waterproof to 1 meter. It came with a belt pouch and a chart. The chart states how much the brightness drops as the battery is used. With this model from start time to 1.25 hours the lumen’s start at the 110 but only drop to 87. Which is pretty good. It takes that last 30mins to drop to 11 lumen’s. So you’ve got at least 1.25 hours of solid bright run time. With a pocket clip and momentary switch I really like this one, can’t wait to test it at night.
Model 3: Streamlight 88032 ProTac 1AA Price: 34.00$
I like this next ProTac as well, it’s the longest of all the lights tested, which makes it easiest to manipulate while holding a handgun.(at least for me) This one has all the features as the one above, 3 modes, same switch, 1 meter waterproof and belt pouch. It is skinnier which I kind of like too, size wise I like this one a lot. Unfortunately it is only 50 lumen’s on the single AA battery, so considerably weaker than the CR123 version. We’ll see if it’s enough at test time. The chart says it starts at 50 lumens, drops to 28 lumens by 1.5 hours and down to 5 lumen by 1.75 hours. Looks promising but we’ll see.
Model 4: Streamlight 66318 MicroStream Penlight Price: 14.00$
This model is really skinny as it’s a single AAA battery giving us 28 lumen and 2.25 hours of run-time. It drops to 2.8 lumen’s by 2 hours. I don’t know about this one, 28 lumen doesn’t seem like much in the house in the day time but like I said before we’ll test it at night. This model has a momentary switch which works easily but clicking it to constant on is difficult with one hand and a pistol. Momentary use will be fine for our needs though I think. It has a pocket clip and came with a lanyard. If all else fails this would make a nice key-chain or whatever else you wanted a small light for. The manual says it’s water resistant, drop proof tested to 1 meter and has a 52 meter beam range. Again I don’t know about 52 meters yet, that seems like a lot for 28 lumen.
Model 5: Streamlight Nano Micro LED Price: 6.98$
Well this one doesn’t really fit the basic criteria but I included it for 2 reasons. 1. This light is better than nothing. 2. We’re discussing “Everyday Carry” lights, so you went somewhere right? You more than likely drove your car correct? So you will have your keys. Anyone of these lights can be a key-chain light but this is SO SMALL and it is made for a key-chain. So I thought what the heck, let’s see how it does for a weapon light. It beats being blind right?? There’s no pressure switch, you have to turn the head. There’s no pocket clip and it runs on tiny watch batteries. (LR-41’s) It does have the longest run-time at 8 hours but only puts out 10 lumen’s. Also I don’t know how much those batteries cost but it might be easier to just buy a new one when you’ve used up your 8 hours. I’m not holding my breath for this one but we’ll give it a try, like I said before it has to beat being blind.
Model 6: MX Power ML-108 Price: 9.40$
This last model I have had the longest, several years, and it’s been a good, dependable pocket flashlight. It’s available from dealextreme.com. They have it listed at 150 lumen’s and 1 AAA battery, that’s total crap, it’s not even close to that bright. If I had to guess it’s high 30’s/low 40’s lumen output. Bright enough to illuminate your target but certainly not a blinding 150 lumen. While this makes a quality keyring, dog-tag chain or zipper flashlight I don’t find it very useful for use with a handgun. The switch DOES NOT have a momentary pressure feature, it must be clicked all the way on/off. It is also a very stiff switch, so it’s not easy to manipulate while holding a pistol with it. I don’t really care for that. Keep this one on a keyring or zipper. For under 10$ it’s a reliable light but not the best choice to use with your handgun.
Ok so there’s the overview of the lights and tech specs. Lets now move onto the testing. I will test all the lights at 25 feet. I will look at overall brightness, how well you can identify a possible target, how easy the light is to use with a pistol and then shoot. I will be using a Colt Combat Commander BB pistol that uses C02 cartridges. Then I don’t have to bother the neighbors shooting after dark and I can do it in my polebarn.
Shooting: I included a pic of the target I shot with the smallest, dimmest light. The tiny little 10 lumen key-chain light still allowed for accurate shooting in total darkness at 25 feet. I was surprised but you can still do it. The brighter ones allowed a more more light spill making the sights easier to see but any of these lights will do to shoot. So as far as pulling the trigger they are all good to go but brighter the better for target identification.
Ease of Use: Models 1, 2 and 4 were all equally easy to use I think.
Model 3 was easiest of all to use because it’s a touch bigger.
Model 5, the key-chain light was easy enough to hold onto but the big problem is it doesn’t have a quick switch. You must turn the head to turn it on, then get it between 2 fingers and aim. If you need to turn it off quick forget it. I tried to cover the light with my finger but it shines thru “red”. So it will not be totally out of sight from your attacker. So it’s slow to turn on and aim, slow to turn off. In the end it beats having nothing though.
Model 6, the MX ML-108, no momentary switch killed this model for me. The switch is nearly impossible to to work due to it has to be clicked all the way on/off and it’s so stiff you can’t really do it. More likely under pressure you’d drop the light. While it’s brighter than Model’s 5,4 and 1 this one just isn’t working out.
Brightness and Target Identification:
Ok so pitch black and 25 feet was our environment shooting, The brighter the better I think, not only for making sure your target is holding a weapon and not an IPOD but also because the brighter the light is on your end the more blind your attacker will be on their end. Model 2 the Streamlight 88030 ProTac was by far the brightest light. That one also has the 3 modes that are easily switched between.
Final Results: My fav is the Streamlight ProTac 1L due to it being the brightest. My 2nd fave is the Streamlight Protac 1AA due to its size is the biggest and easiest for me to manipulate while holding a pistol. Tying for 3rd place was the Pelican and the AAA Steamlight. Either one are good quality. Coming in 4th place was the ML-108. For brightness it was better than the AAA’s in 3rd place but the switch made it a loser for me. Last is the Micro Nano, while not a bad light it is a pain to operate. In the end though I’d take it over being blind.
So there you have it. I think every one of these lights are well made. Some work better than others of course but none are junk piles. The important thing here is to come away from this thinking “I need to carry an everyday carry light with my gun”. I really believe it is the second most important tool to have with you. With a light you can win the fight, without it maybe you shoot your kid…..I know nobody wants to even think that but the reality is if you can’t positively identify your target you had better not be shooting at it. A few dollars and a few extra ounces here can make the difference between triumph and tragedy. Don’t fire blind. This is a simple thing. Get a light now if you don’t already carry one.
As always thanks for reading and train often.
By: Cary Kieffer